7 Tasty Ways to Plus-up Your Chocolate Experience

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Have you heard? Research has shown that chocolate can help make the heart healthy, and that good news certainly makes the heart happy, too! It’s true that dark chocolate has higher concentrations of heart-healthy compounds, but smart treats with flavors we love can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Well, whatever your motivation, here are 7 tasty ways to enjoy chocolate in good health.

1. Dark chocolate with spices.
The hot (and in some cases, I mean literally) new flavor pairing in chocolate. Dark chocolate and chiles, the dynamic duo: my favorite is Chuao Spicy Maya ChocoPods with pasilla chiles, cayenne pepper and cinnamon blended into the dark chocolate. It’s a true flavor adventure! The ChocoPod is the perfect size in a beautiful individually packaged 50-calorie treat. Smooth, delectable with intense chocolate flavor and just the right amount of heat to get the senses tingling.

  • The bonus? Those spices, particularly the chiles help keep the metabolism burning strong.

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2. Chocolate milk as a snack, post-exercise beverage or as your dessert.
Take an organic chocolate syrup like Trader Joe’s Organic Midnight Moo, Santa Cruz Organic or AhLaska Organic Chocolate Syrup and add 2-3 teaspoons to a cup of organic milk. You get the 9 essential nutrients of milk including protein, vitamin D, calcium and potassium. Plus you get the big mouth-feel experience with the creamy chocolate liquid as you sip. Let it swish around your mouth to maximize the flavor.

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3. Chocolate dipped fruit.

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From apricots half dipped in chocolate to hand-dipped strawberries, you get all the nutritional credit for the fruit from vitamins, minerals to its fiber and antioxidants while feeling truly decadent with the dressed-up versions at the same time. Enjoy a chocolate dipped banana or a chocolate-and-walnut coated apple as an occasional alternative to the usual. Sure they’re a treat, but you also get all the same vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients of the fruit as you delight in the fun.

4. Cocoa in rubs and marinades.

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Go ahead and try a little cocoa with your spicy marinade. Mexican moles (sauces) are traditionally made with Mexican chocolate or cocoa and a variety of spices like chiles, cinnamon, cumin and anise. Cocoa dials up the fun and flavor in sauces and marinades for poultry, pork and even fish and vegetables. Here’s a recipe for Crockpot Mexican Jumping Bean Chili With A Cocoa Twist!

5. Smoothies.

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Is peanut butter and chocolate your thing? Make your morning smoothie with a tablespoon of organic peanut butter (make sure the ingredient list stays basic i.e.: only peanuts and water) and a couple teaspoons of organic chocolate syrup + some dashes of cinnamon spice for an extra zip. Or if you feel like monkeying around a bit, blend a banana and a couple teaspoons of cocoa with some low fat vanilla yogurt and ice.

 

6. Add cacao nibs to your morning yogurt or really to ANYTHING. This morning I baked them into my Banana Bread recipe!

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Bitter and bright with an unmistakable crunch, the cocoa nibs are simply dried and roasted cacao beans crushed into small bits. The flavor and texture offer a surprise to the palate some describing it as both crunchy and tender. And it’s about as close as you can deliciously get to the true flavor and essence of this ultimate close-to-nature form of chocolate.

7. Try this Healing Lifestyles & Spas recipe for Dark Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries made with silken tofu and cocoa. Creamy and decadent, nutritious and delicious, too.

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Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RD

Wendy Bazilian is a doctor of public health, registered dietitian, American College of Sports Medicine certified Exercise Physiologist and freelance writer in San Diego. She is an expert advisor to the spa industry and co-owns Bazilian’s Health Clinic with her husband and business partner, Dr. Jason Bazilian. Dr. Wendy is co-author of Eat Clean, Stay Lean (Rodale, 2015) and author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet (Rodale). Find her onFacebook and Twitter

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